Money & Business

Study: True Believers Get Ahead at Work

By / Jun 19, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Researchers recently found that employees who value and work toward their organizations’ missions are viewed as more influential by coworkers.

It’s very important at a nonprofit organization, even though you’re working for the greater good, you still have to be business-savvy and you still have to know how to push the mission forward.

How much you believe in your organization’s mission may affect your ability to be promoted at work, according to new research.

In the study “Status and the True Believer,” researchers surveyed employees of mission-based companies and found that employees who truly believed in their organization’s mission increased in influence faster than employees who were less concerned with the company’s objectives.

“Many organizations today have a well-defined mission with enduring principles that matter, not only to employees, but to other stakeholders,” John Bingham, Brigham Young University professor of organizational leadership and strategy and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “It’s a shift from the old paradigm. In these companies, it’s less about who you know.”

The researchers looked at the “transactional,” “relational,” and “ideological” ways in which employees interact with a company. They found that those who value ideological interactions (working for a cause) were seen as more influential and of a higher status by coworkers.

The manner in which employees view their obligations to their company can also influence how they are perceived by others, the study noted.

While belief in a company’s mission is valuable for success at work, networking also serves a purpose, especially at nonprofit organizations, said Stacey Berk, managing consultant at ExpandHR Consulting, which works with nonprofits.

“There has to be a blend of both,” she said. “It’s very important at a nonprofit organization, even though you’re working for the greater good, you still have to be business-savvy and you still have to know how to push the mission forward. A lot of times, that’s through relationships internally and externally.”

Where an organization’s mission can also come in handy is in recruiting and retaining top talent.

“The main difference between recruiting for a nonprofit and a for-profit is you look for individuals who are somehow aligned to the cause or the mission of the organization, whether it be on some personal level or it’s a great interest of theirs and something that they’ve always wanted to align themselves with,” Berk said.

This is true regardless of whom you are hiring, from an administrative assistant all the way up to the CEO, she noted.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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